The Place: Online/global with UK distribution warehouses but no showrooms.
The Story: Did you ever get bored of your house and eating at home all the time during the pandemic?
Oh yes: Ever wondered if a thousand pound chandelier would improve things?
Umm: Ever wondered if having the correct serving tray could make all the difference?
Possibly: How much? £500+
Actually, no: Of course you did. We all have. But in earlier times the cry was ‘where, oh where, do I obtain said tray’. And will the security guard on the door to the showroom even let someone like you in.
Now hang on just a moment: To solve this problem back in 2012 entrepreneur Jonathan Holmes founded LuxDeco after in his words “being frustrated and uninspired by luxury interiors on the high street”.
Well, anyway all the high street interior shops are shut: Quite right. Another reason why what has been called the Net-A-Porter of interior design is having its moment in the sun right now. Astonishingly the powers that be don’t consider scented candles as essential retail so online is the only option but here’s the rub…
Rub away: A lot of these kind of high-end brands aren’t what you would call digital natives. So that my friend is where LuxDeco storms in.
Finally we get to the point: Jonathan Holmes talked to Retail Insider and told us what problems his market place is trying to solve.
I’m guessing access is one: Yessir. It’s a very scattered and global set of manufacturers and suppliers at this end of the market and it has to be said they have traditionally rather looked down on selling on the internet. It’s taken Mr Homes quite a long time to get some of them onboard.
Like how long? Naming no names, one leading company – four years of stonewalling. Now they’re on it and loving it.
Go on, who? My lips are sealed. Suffice to say that LuxDeco had to invest heavily in luring the brands before they see that being on the same sales platform with their rivals or, more importantly, people they see as lesser brands, is actually a sound idea.
Quel horreur! Of course Holmes also had to deal with the old ‘but unless the customer has plumped the cushion themselves how can they know the quality’ idea.
That old chestnut. How did he counter that? Firstly, by noting that most of these products are already found in old fashioned mail order catalogues and secondly by persuading brands that LuxDeco could wrap a seamless experience around delivery, perfect visuals, and a total logistics offload.
I guess that sorted out all the naysayers: Actually no. Because then no-one believed the platform would provide the customers or that the demand was really there.
Crikey tough crowd: I’ll tell you what though. They’re queuing up now – after a year of pandemic there are partnerships with 350 brands including Eichholtz, AERIN and Kelly Wearstler. Now the problem is that too many want to come on board…
Clever: Gone are the days of a personal stylist popping halfway across the world to source a set of cocktail forks.
Thank god for that frankly: Around 15% of what LuxDeco sells is exclusive to the platform and it is pushing for more of that. Also offering potential is its own-label range involving selected suppliers to create in-house designs.
And let’s face it Covid and lockdowns between them have focused people on home like never before: To say LuxDeco is well placed right now doesn’t begin to describe it. Home renovations and shopping safely in one place. Yes please.
So let’s talk customers shall we: According to Holmes 90% of purchasers are private individuals. And they generate 75% of revenues. The other 10% are trade customers including hotels and restaurants, who with their much bigger average orders account for the other 25% of revenues. So expect to see a focus on that sector especially when hospitality reopens.
Plus haven’t we all wished we could take the beautiful teaspoons home from some restaurant in our time: Exactly. As Holmes notes “the trade side drives B2C” meaning hotel guests ask where the mirror is from in their room etc…etc…
But what happens when I order the divine teaspoons? Well, LuxDeco organises all that side of things from receiving goods into its warehouse from the brand owner, to the full white glove delivery thing. Holmes says he would like to work with the brands to increase the level of direct-to-consumer deliveries.
I bet: In fact the offer on-going is very much that LuxDeco would like to build the technology architecture for suppliers as most do not have tech teams at all.
You mean like the Holy Grail that is white label solutions? Yes I do. This is exactly what FarFetch does for fashion, THG does for beauty and health brands and Ocado does for food retailers.
The site must have some competition though: Of course, but usually at a much lower price point level. There is some overlap with John Lewis and White Stuff on textiles. Made.com and Wayfair also cover some of the same territory.
May we talk numbers? We may. Without giving away their revenue numbers the company can say that for the first quarter of 2020 sales increased by 119%. Furniture sales rose by 175%, accessories by 42%, and lighting by a massive 320%.
That lockdown effect again: Indeed. The luxury interior market is reckoned to be $100 billion globally. That’s a lot of vases. And according to Holmes a whole new cohort of buyers are now online and with the luxury sector more recession proof than the rest of us LuxDeco is riding a wave. It has 250k+ followers on its different social media channels and uses a lot of influencers as well to generate that community of like-minds ethos.
While we are talking numbers: To help it capitalise on the trends, LuxDeco is in the process of raising nearly £5 million from existing and new investors. Holmes assures us it is not at a luxury-level valuation!
That’s enough numbers. Who would he like to have on the site who isn’t on yet? Wishlist is as follows: Fendi Collection, B&B Italia and Restoration Hardware.
Anyway, can you tell me now who that hard to get brand was? No.
Was it Ralph Lauren? No comment.
Was it though? Yes.
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